Each new patient that comes in for a consultation in my Comox Valley Chiropractic office receives a personalized and detailed report of findings. In this report, I explain the patient’s diagnosis in everyday language and what that actually means with respect to their spine or other joints. I explain what I think caused the problem, and why they were so susceptible to the injury. We talk about what the treatment is going to entail and the results I hope to see. I then will go through the various stretches and strengthening exercises that are necessary to address the problem when the patient is out in the world. Finally, I always sit down and discuss my proposed treatment plan and make sure that it sounds reasonable to the patient.
Every chiropractor uses their own education and clinical judgment to determine what a patient will need in terms of treatment. This will vary from person to person based on such characteristics as their age, the nature of their injury (car accident? workplace injury?), their previous history, their response to treatment, how active they are, genetic factors etc. etc. etc. The bottom line is that you can’t determine how much care someone will need until you see them, evaluate them and then see how they respond to an initial course of care.
In my office (and I would like to stress I speak ONLY for myself), I will usually start off with a course of 6 visits over the course of 3 weeks. This plan consists of the initial visit, 4 subsequent visits and then a re-evaluation. Its with this re-evaluation that we can see how much improvement has been achieved, and we can perform all the testing done on the first visit for comparison purposes. At this point, we will have a much better idea of recovery time. If more treatment is needed, the frequency of treatment will usually go down with time (i.e. from twice a week to once a week).
People who come in with simple uncomplicated pain – mild ache in the low back or a crick in the neck – will often be feeling better by the 4th or 5th visit (or sooner!). I usually will schedule the re-evaluation 1-2 weeks later in order to ensure that the problem hasn’t returned and that the home program is working. People who have very chronic complaints, are in great amounts of pain, have been in a car accident or have suffered a workplace injury will take longer. I’ve had people get better in one visit, and people who take 2 years.
I do speak about prevention with most of my patients. Its not something I push on them, I simply educate them on the benefits and its up to them if they want to do it. I would say about 50% of my patients seek preventative care, anywhere from once per month to once per year. The other 50% pop in for a course of visits when they hurt themselves. When you look at each of these groups, the funny thing is that on average I see them both for the same amount of treatment.
I welcome your questions and comments, as I am sure every chiropractor and every person has a different opinion on this subject.